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Coffee: Good or Bad?


I have been a coffee addict for most of my adult life.

As a college student, I often had my last cup of the day in bed, just before turning out the lights. In those days, the caffeine never prevented me from sleeping.

Then I went to graduate school, and the pressure of trying to keep up with studies and teaching left me perpetually sleep-deprived…and dependant on super-sized mugs of coffee. At some point I realized that coffee was more than a habit: it was my lifeblood.

Feeling worried about my over-consumption, I have tried again and again to give up coffee. But the abstinence never lasts long. I crave the bitter taste, the caffeine-generated alertness, the simple ritual of sitting down at my desk with a cup of black brew.

So I’m very interested to see new research suggesting that coffee is actually good for us. According to various studies, coffee can help ward off depression, diabetes, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, gallstones, liver disease, and even cancer. One study found that drinking at least a cup of coffee a day can lower the risk of death associated with poor lifestyle habits, such as skipping exercise.

Coffee or a ten-mile run? I’m ashamed to say the choice has never been a difficult one for me!

The downside? Coffee is addictive and gives many people the jitters. It increases cholesterol, and people with a specific genetic mutation that slows down the breakdown of caffeine may find their risk of heart disease increased by coffee. And non-organic coffee is high in pesticide residues.

While substituting a cup of coffee for regular exercise still isn’t wise—I’ll be the first to admit it— the evidence no longer suggests that we absolutely need to give up coffee for good health. For me, choosing organic coffee and consuming it in moderation seems like a good compromise. And I’ve started yoga, too.

Your thoughts on coffee?


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